The coronavirus pandemic is not over. Even if you've been vaccinated, others haven't—and they are at risk, possibly from you. That's the message Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tried to get across at yesterday's White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing. Fauci later amplified the same thing last night on CNN. Read on to see the top 6 things you need to know right now to stay safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
Dr. Fauci Says "the Level" We Are at Right Now is Dangerous to You
California is looking to reopen fully by June. Other states—like Florida and Texas—are already open fully. Yet number of new cases are stuck at a "disturbingly high level," warns Dr. Fauci.
Regarding when we'd finally be safe, "I think Dr. Fauci over the summer had been talking about case counts below 10,000 below 5,000," answered Dr. Walensky. "We're at 62,000 today. So you know….I think we're way too high to be thinking that we've won this race."
"Very well said," added Dr. Fauci. "What we will almost certainly see as we get more and more proportion of the population vaccinated, that those case count numbers will come down, but we would not recommend doing anything different until we get well below the level where we are right now."
The CDC Chief Said We Have About 50,000 Cases a Day Too Many
California is looking to reopen fully by June. Other states—like Florida and Texas—are already open fully. "I'm wondering if we have a new number—what the new threshold might be for reopening broadly?' the doctors were asked. "I think Dr. Fauci over the summer had been talking about case counts below 10,000 below 5,000," answered Dr. Walensky. "We're at 62,000 today. So you know, what I would say is, in the context of vaccination, we still need to have our case counts be really low to, to stop circulating virus, to stop the emergence of variants, to stop hospitalizations and ultimately to stop deaths. I'm really encouraged by these decreased numbers of deaths that I believe to be an impact of vaccination, especially the vaccination of our elderly communities. But I think we're way too high to be thinking that we've won this race."
Michigan is a COVID Hot Spot. Will More Shutdowns Be Necessary?
The doctors were asked if there should be more stringent measures in place in Michigan, where cases are rising fastest. Should places scale back openings? Should youth sports—which have been shown to be spreading the virus—be curtailed? "We've been in close touch with the state," said Dr. Walensky. "Our guidance on youth sports is actually pretty articulate with regard to having substantial or high transmission and that these activities should be happening outdoors and more than six feet apart" and that there should be testing, "I would advocate for stronger mitigation strategies to sort of decrease the community activity, ensure mask wearing. And we're working closely with the state to try and work towards that."
The CDC Chief Said 65,000 Cases Mean 65,000 Opportunities for More Virus Spread
"We're seeing really encouraging trends that the vaccination is working," said Dr. Walensky. "That said, we're still seeing older people hospitalized, and it's the ones that have not yet been vaccinated. We're still hearing stories of, 'I got my vaccine yesterday and today I have COVID.' And so what we really want to do is just scale up that vaccination more and more and more so that we can be in a place where we have more vaccinations out there, and really less disease—circulating. It's 65,000 cases. That's 65,000 opportunities for mutations to occur, for more variants to spread."
Dr. Fauci Said When We'd Get to a "Degree of Normality"
When will we reach herd immunity? "There's not going to be an absolute number" in which we know everything is OK, said Dr. Fauci, "but I think what we're going to see is that as we get more and more people vaccinated, you're going to see it can come in a diminution in the number of cases that we see every day. And with that, you know, the cascading domino effect of less hospitalizations and less deaths. I don't think it's going to be a precise number. I don't know what that number is. I can say it's going to be this percent, but we'll know it when we see it, it'll be obvious as the numbers come down rather dramatically. And when they do, we're going to wind up getting really stepwise much, much more towards what we consider approaching a degree of normality, which everyone really quite dramatically notices it it's on the way. Hang in there."
How to Stay Safe Until the End of This Pandemic
So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.